Having lost their first game of the campaign when Nice came to visit on Friday, PSG were looking to stave off a potential early-season crisis in the biggest game of the Luis Enrique era so far. A match-up against Borussia Dortmund, themselves also in middling form domestically, would be the first in what shaped up to be a potentially precarious Champions League group stage campaign.
The hosts would dominate possession in the first half, although cleaar-cut chances were mostly lacking to start with. Some neat combinations involving Vitinha, Mbappé, and a dazzling Zaïre-Emery would form the basis of most of PSG’s forays forward – they were mostly untroubled by the Bundesliga outfit, who were kept at bay by a characteristically dogged Ugarte and a resurgent Marquinhos.
A flurry of chances before the end of first 45 minutes would show a more incisive side to PSG’s attacks – one that was largely absent against Les Aiglons. A penalty claim for a Niklas Süle handball would almost hand the Parisians their clearest chance, but the claim was dismissed after a VAR check. By half-time, Luis Enrique’s men had nothing to show for their dominance.
That would change instantly after the break, as this time Süle was indeed penalised for a penalty in the box, and Kylian Mbappé duly dispatched the spot-kick to give the hosts the lead.
Vitinha was again at the heart of the action for PSG’s second goal, but it was Achraf Hakimi who took centre stage – the right-back combining with the Portuguese midfielder before continuing his run into the box, beating Mats Hummels with a feint, and finishing with the outside of his boot. It will have taken just under an hour for one of the Ligue 1 champions’ elaborate moves to pay off – but on the basis of Hakimi’s effort, it was worth the wait.
Dortmund did come close to pulling one back – the substitute Jamie Bynoe-Gittens saw his effort beat the goalkeeper but come off the post, while Donnarumma saw a couple of headers whistle past his woodwork as well. The hosts will have had several opportunities to wrap up the game as well – an increasingly accurate Dembélé finding Gonçalo Ramos several times, Mbappé pulling several shots wide after being played through as well.
Despite the wayward finishing, Luis Enrique will undoubtedly be reassured by the performance – one where PSG dominated proceedings and looked firmly in control throughout, albeit against a mostly inoffensive Dortmund outfit. Potentially sterner tests await, starting with a chaotic but unpredictable Marseille here on Sunday and later trips to Newcastle and Milan – but the honeymoon period for the Spanish tactician may not be over just yet.
PSG player ratings
Gianluigi Donnarumma, 6 – The Italian international was scarcely tested (just the one shot on target for the visitors), although he did look more comfortable with the ball at his feet in comparison to his shaky performance against Nice.
Achraf Hakimi, 7 –
Milan Škriniar, 6
Lucas Hernández, 6
Vitinha, 7 – A masterful midfield display, from the man who is effectively Marco Verratti’s successor. His vision and ability to wriggle his way out of tight spaces were crucial to his team’s dominance – his highlight being the assist for Hakimi’s goal, a move which was kick-started by his backheel to the Moroccan on the edge of the box. Replaced by Kang-in Lee in the final ten minutes.
Manuel Ugarte, 6 – The Uruguayan has been PSG’s standout player so far this season, and turned in a characteristically tenacious performance. There were a few wayward passes when he looked to move up the pitch, but on the whole the new arrival continues to impress.
Warren Zaïre-Emery, 7 – The French youth international, at just 17, continues to step up on the big stage. It would be a stretch too far to say he looks like a seasoned veteran – his decision-making in the final third could use some fine-tuning – but he looks at ease in a Champions League-level midfield.
Ousmane Dembélé, 5 – An improved performance which left the Dortmund defence scrambling at times, but the French international is still lacking accuracy in his final ball. Some questionable decision-making on the counter when the hosts could have added more goals.
Randal Kolo Muani, 4 – A tough first start for the new arrival – albeit against a familiar opponent – especially given the run of play so heavily revolved around PSG’s combinations in midfield. He provided a useful outlet when dropping deeper, but his runs forward were mostly ineffectual. Replaced by Gonçalo Ramos in the final ten minutes – the Portuguese forward thought he’d scored his first PSG goal in stoppage time, but his run was ruled offside.
Kylian Mbappé, 5 – As was the case against Nice, the France captain struggled to fully involve himself in his team’s build-up play – but he stepped up when it mattered. Converted the penalty he won himself just after the start of the second half, and nearly had a second with a couple of opportunities on the counter at the end of the game.